The Gaijin Smash
A shitty screamsheet about being an expat in Japan.
* * *
[ 20201003/1245Z ] :
YAKUZA, CIGARS, AND A HELL OF A NIGHT.
So there I was, late Friday night a few years ago, Yokohama station.
The boyz (see picture) took their train home, but I've got the whole weekend ahead of me. So instead, I head back north, Tokyo bound.
I eventually transfer to the Yamanote line and stop in a part of town I ain't never been before : Ikebukuro.
A town I can best describe as having a little of everything.
It has culture, sounds, weeb shit, great food, roving gangs, street races, a Chinatown, traditional Japanese architecture mixed with the modern brutalist skyscrapers looming above.
The sky was colored dark brown by the lights of the city when I left the station. After a bit of roaming aimlessly, I opened up TripAdvisor to find any cool touristy places nearby.
Boy, that was a choice.
Beneath all the 4 and 5 star foodie stops and weeaboo hovels, I stopped scrolling on an establishment with one single 5 star review.
The review, apparently for a new pub, simply read: "Made lots of friends last night! Gave me free cigars!"
Well, shit, sign me up.
And so began a wild night. Google maps brought me to a residential sector, lots of high-rise apartments, and I had to confirm twice to make sure I was in the right neighborhood. After exploring the area further, I finally found an a-frame stand-up sign with the proper Kanji I was looking for.
The sign pointed me into a squat, black-brick apartment building. I went inside and followed more sketchy looking signs up six flights of stairs, which further led to what I'm pretty sure was a makeshit skybridge made of a shipping container to the neighboring building.
I cross, and down one more set of stairs I finally find... an honest-to-God-damn Yakuza speakeasy.
The whole floor of the building was unfinished, no drywall set up, just studs and wiring. However, fitting snugly amongst the building's bones was a bunch of leather couches, polished brass tables, poker tables, Mahjong tables, and a huge bar set up at the end.
After getting a frisk by the bouncers, I got some wisky from the bar and sat myself into a leather couch, taking in the scenery. There were, Americans, Russians, Filipinos, Chinese, and of course, Japanese Yakuza all wearing garb ranging from Burburry to Balenciaga.
That night, I played Five-Card and Texas Hold-'Em while smoking cigars and chatting with all sorts of foreigners and degenerates, drinking wisky and beers all the way until my phone's alarm told me it was 0430. I bid my newfound friends farewell and left exhausted but enourmously satisfied with an unforgettable night.
EPILOGUE: Four months later, I made a return trip to the same location, only to find the neighboring building (the "entrance") completely demolished. I am unsure if the establishment is gone for good, or simply moved, but in the end even if I could go back I don't think the experience will be as fun as that crazy first night.
[ 20200303/0830Z ] :
WOT IS THE GAIJIN SMASH?
Japan, specifically Tokyo Bay, is a magical place. Great food, cheap booze, activities around every corner. A land bursting with culture and style. An exhausting amount of culture and style.
Don't misunderstand, I fuckin' love living here. Everything is just so damn convenient. But with the utter convenience comes rules. Lots and lots of rules.
Following the rules, etiquettes, and manners in Japan can be exhausting, no matter how long you claim to have lived here ( Who, me? Four years and counting ) .
So, what is the Gaijin Smash?
It's a beautiful moment when you say, “Nah, fuck that shit, I ain't Japanese, and ain't none of you have the guts to stop me” as you blast your way past a queue for a new game release.
It's when you feign ignorance as you get on the Narita Express with a Pasmo instead of a ticket because you were too lazy to wait in the line.
It's when you and your friends get blasted drinking Chu-His ( see photo ) in front of a Shinto Temple.
It's when you hang out with the Nigerians in Roppongi too long, later waking suddenly from a three-day bender, crawling out from beneath hookers of various genders and wiping mysterious powder from the lining of your nostrils.
It's a complete and utter disregard of the Japanese etiquettes and courtesies.
Now, again, don't get me wrong. I am absolutely not encouraging such behavior. In fact, I pride myself on my ability to follow proper courtesies when needed. Despite being a tall ginger man of Swedish blood, I have moved past the point of bows being awkward and I can return a proper “Ohayo gozaimasu!” without sounding like I’m gargling marbles.
But sometimes… man, sometimes, it's just too much. The individual in me boils over after festering for months, and I just gotta do some dumb shit.
And that right there, that's The Gaijin Smash .